Controversy has its place if you’re right.  Preceding the Civil War, Kentucky abolitionist Controversy has its place if you’re right.  Preceding the Civil War, Kentucky abolitionist

Husky Basketball: On The Other Hand – The Rebuttal


Controversy has its place if you’re right.  Preceding the Civil War, Kentucky abolitionist Rep. Cassius Claywas controversial but, with respect to slavery, he was right – although many believed otherwise.  Controversy without sufficient justification wastes time at best but at worst, well, leads to war.  Controversy for the sake of controversy is only counterproductive.

Yesterday, February 24th, the Husky Haul lead article declared the Husky basketball season “failed,” a controversial position taken by my fellow friend and writer, Jeff Taylor.  The Husky basketball season, however, logically cannot be called a failure because it is far from over, the team has excellent talent, and there is a history of talented teams beginning inauspiciously but coming together when it counts.  I’ll give three examples.

The Sonics

Some of you can remember how poorly the 1977 Sonics started out (5-17).  Head Coach Bob Hopkins was fired.  Lenny Wilkins was hired and, looking for the best team chemistry, tweaked the lineup to where the starters were newcomers center Marvin Webster, small forward John (JJ) Johnson, Gus Williams at off-guard, and second year guard Dennis (DJ) Johnson at the point.  Wilkins moved rookie Jack Sikma from center to starting power forward, and the first players off the bench were former starters guard Fred Brown and forward Paul Silas.

This combination worked wonderfully.  From that point the Sonics went 42-8, finding themselves in the championship series which they lost to the Bullets in the final game when DJ uncharacteristically went 0-14.  The chemistry that developed between Gus, DJ and JJ as the season progressed, however, was particularly impressive.  During a three-on-two fast break, the ball seldom touched the floor; it was like watching the Blue Angels over Lake Washington.

The next year, the Sonics found themselves back in the NBA final against the Bullets and went 4-1 to bring home the first (and last) present era world professional championship to Seattle.  The 1977 5-17 start was beneficial: it got Lenny Wilkins in a position to successfully experiment with team chemistry.

The West Coast Huskies

In 2003-2004 the Huskies went 10-17 and finished 9th in the Pac-10.  Things were going no better at the start of the 2004-2005 season but then came the OSU game.  The Huskies finished the season 19-12 and, in what would have been a complete surprise at the beginning of the season, went to the Big Dance.  The next two seasons the team made it to the Sweet 16.  It took some effort but when Nate, Tre, Brandon et al learned to play with intensity as a team, they suddenly got good.  Funny how that works.  Those early learning sessions paid off.

They will again.

The East Coast Huskies

Last season (2010-2011) at the beginning of the season, UConn was picked by the Big East coaches to finish 11th in the conference, just ahead of Seton Hall.  As the season progressed, things were up and down but when it counted, UConn gelled as a team, played with extraordinary intensity, and they won the Big East championship in spite of 9-9 conference record.  Then, totally unexpected at the beginning of the season, they went to the Big Dance…the Sweet 16…the Elite 8…the Final 4…and finished the season by winning the NCAA championship.

Not bad for a team that was picked to finish 11th and ultimately had a 9-9 record in their conference.

When it was over, they were feted with a National Championship parade on April 17th at Hartford, the Connecticut state capitol.  Anyone along the parade route who had experienced January angst about a failed season, gave it no thought on April 17th.

Lorenzo Romar

Demonizing Lorenzo Romar accomplishes nothing.  Replace him?  We have someone who can do that?

Of the Big Four coaches in U of W basketball history, Hec Edmundson in 27 seasons went 488-195 (71.45%) but with one trip to the NCAA tournament (1943).  Tippy Dye in nine seasons went 156-91 (63.16%) with two NCAA tournament appearances (Elite 8 in 1951, Final 4 in 1953).  Marv Harshman in 14 seasons went 246-156 (61.19%) with three NCAA Tournament appearances (2nd round in 1976, Sweet 16 in 1984, and first round in 1985, the last NCAA appearance before Lorenzo Romar was hired).

Lorenzo Romar, who was named Pac-10 Coach of the Year twice during nine seasons, has a record through 2010-2011 of 195-102 (65.66%) with six NCAA appearances (2004, 2005, 2006, 2009, 2010 and 2011).  This isn’t someone you show the door.  And the feeling is he is on the cusp of making Washington continually dominating.

The team that Romar presently has – Ndiaye, Wilcox, Ross, Wroten, Gant, Simmons, Gaddy, et al, and now Seferian-Jenkins – may be the most talented team during Romar’s career at Washington.  But it was implied they will not find their chemistry this season, will not realize their potential as a team

As the examples above indicate, however, that’s not necessarily the way the basketball world works.  I was impressed with the team’s performance during the Stanford game.  That was the first game this season where I saw them give glimpses of what I can only call post-season form, where they at times really played balls-to-the-wall, team basketball.  I could be wrong but they looked like a team beginning to come together.

So, before we throw in the towel, let’s exercise patience.  Let’s give the team and coaches our support and see if they, like the 1977 Sonics, the 2004 West Coast Huskies and the 2011 East Coast Huskies, don’t come together and start playing championship basketball when it really counts.